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In the aftermath of unrest in Urumchi on July 5, 2009, Chinese security forces conducted sweeps of Uyghur neighborhoods in the city arbitrarily detaining Uyghur males. A number of these individuals were forcibly disappeared and to date their whereabouts remain unknown.
Nine years since the unrest, Chinese authorities are enforcing the mass incarceration of Uyghurs in internment camps with many relatives of the detained unsure of the location of their loved ones. UHRP calls on UN member states to condemn the internment camps at China’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review in November.
“It is hard to believe that nine years since the mass detention and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs, we are faced with an escalation of these egregious human violations abuses in East Turkestan. The lack of accountability for the human rights abuses committed in 2009 means the Chinese state has only become emboldened to conduct further acts of violence against Uyghurs,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat in a statement.
Mr. Kanat added: “It is critical the international community strongly and publicly pressure Chinese officials to end mass detentions of Uyghurs in internment camps. We must act now to prevent the further deterioration of conditions in East Turkestan and purposefully seek ways to guarantee the fundamental rights of Uyghurs.”
On July 5, 2009, Uyghurs peacefully assembled in People’s Square in Urumchi to protest government inaction over a deadly attack on Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. The details of what happened that day are unclear; however, what is known is the city erupted into unprecedented unrest that resulted in the deaths of an unknown number of people. Reports issued by Amnesty International and the Uyghur Human Rights Project described eyewitness accounts of state security forces firing on peaceful Uyghur protestors.
A report issued by Human Rights Watch in October 2009 documented large-scale sweep operations conducted by security forces in two predominantly Uyghur areas of Urumchi beginning July 6. Human Rights Watch’s report recorded enforced disappearances of 43 Uyghur men. Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, called the documented disappearances the “tip of the iceberg.” In an article dated May 14, 2012, Radio Free Asia described how 36 Uyghur families had come forward with accounts of missing family members since the July 5, 2009 protest.
Since 2017, China has detained possibly over three million Uyghurs in internment camps. Uyghur Human Rights Project